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Chile seeks advice from NASA on feeding trapped miners

by Staff Writers
Santiago (AFP) Aug 24, 2010
Officials in Chile said Tuesday they have asked the US space agency NASA for assistance in keeping 33 trapped miners supplied with food.

Health minister Jaime Manalich told reporters that the government contacted NASA "to learn from their experience in space" and to see if there are similar techniques they can use to provide nourishment to the mine workers.

"The situation is very similar the one experienced by the astronauts, who spend months on end in the space station," he said.

The copper and gold mine in San Jose de Copiapo, in Chile's Atacama Desert, collapsed on August 5, trapping the workers inside.

Food supplies were being sent through a narrow hole of about eight centimeters (three inches) which engineers are working to widen. But they were not expected to create a passage wide enough to extract the men until Christmas.

The half-starved workers subsisted for more than two weeks on rations of two spoonfuls of tuna and a half-glass of milk every other day before official were able to start sending them water and liquid food rations.

Manalich said officials were looking for ways to provide condensed, high-protein, calorie-rich nutrition to the men, who may have to spend as long as four months trapped underground in the mine until officials.

The workers are holed up in a dank, dark underground cavern 700 meters (2,300 feet) deep inside the mine.

Rescuers had believed the men perished after 17 days passed without signs of life, but on Sunday a small probe drill broke through and reached the men, who sent out a note saying they were alive.

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Chilean miners' rescue operation to last months
Santiago (AFP) Aug 23, 2010
Chilean rescue teams prepared to launch a potentially months-long bid Monday to retrieve 33 miners found alive and in apparently good health after more than two weeks trapped deep underground. A camera sent down a bore hole showed the men shirtless, sweaty and happy despite chief rescue engineer Andres Sougarret saying it would take "at least 120 days" to carve out a new shaft after the mine ... read more

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